Feb 18, 2011

Asia in Focus 29 - Keeping our promise: return to Isabela

Changing weather patterns across the world have increased the intensity of storms and conversely, drought, in some of the most vital food production areas of the Asia-Pacific region. These natural disaster trends pose the risk of civil and international rivalries and conflict.

In December 2010, Asia America Initiative conducted an emergency needs assessment in the "rice bowl" area of the northern Philippines, which had been severely damaged by Typhoon Juan [codenamed Megi].
We found houses reduced to piles of wood, schools without roofs and textbooks destroyed, children without shoes and as far as the eye could see, once productive corn and rice fields rendered barren.

There was little outside intervention present. Communities felt abandoned but were not giving up. We started with small gifts of basic medicines and toys - such as plastic sort-of soccer balls - to make a difference in the children's lives. We promised to return. And on February 16, 2011 we kept our promise. A 20 foot, ten-wheeled truck carried around a half-million dollars of hospital equipment, school supplies, toys and sanitation equipment for the 12 hour drive through the Cordilleras mountains to Isabela Province.

AAI synchronized and coordinated the partnership between on-site and international humanitarian and environmental organizations, provincial government officials, private businesses and pharmaceutical companies, the Philippine military and the Philippine Department of Health, Customs and Foreign Ministry, as well as the U.S. and Philippine Departments of Agriculture. The desperate plight of between 300,000 and 2 million persons directly and indirectly victimized by the storms spurred all participants to voluntary action. A spirit of goodwill overcame the lack of financial resources by all partners and significantly deterred corruption and mismanagement.

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